The “Memorial for the Fallen 13” will be on display permanently along the perimeter of the Norco Country Center at 960 Sixth St. The official unveiling is set for 1 p.m. Saturday and will be attended by several Marines who served alongside the fallen, as well as city officials and numerous area residents, according to organizers.
“To bring this iconic monument to life took a lot of volunteers and many hours to bring it where it is today, with the help of donated materials, private funding and the shopping center owner, Liberio Realty,” according to a statement posted to social media.
The memorial features a flower garden, in-laid stones with inscriptions bearing the 13 service members’ names, photographs, American flags and a sign reading, “Remembering Our Heroes.” There is a separate plaque paying homage to Marine Lance Cpl. Kareem Grant Nikoui, 20, who was from Norco. The plaque reads, “Our Home Town Hero.”
Nikoui was one of two Riverside County men who perished in the suicide bombing. The other resident was 22-year-old Marine Cpl. Hunter Lopez of Indio.
The two Leathernecks and their fellow Marines, as well as a U.S. Navy corpsman and Army soldier, were among the contingent providing security during the chaotic withdrawal of military personnel and civilians from Afghanistan, culminating in the Taliban retaking it.
A suicide bomber detonated himself along the airport perimeter on Aug. 26. In addition to killing the 13 service members, nearly 100 Afghanis were slain or wounded, according to officials.
Nikoui graduated from Norco High School, where he was involved in the J-ROTC program. In addition to the new memorial, his name has been inscribed on the “Lest We Forget Wall” at the Ingalls Event Center’s Veterans Memorial.